I once read an interesting travel article by a writer, Guy Trebay, about how he still sends postcards from wherever his travels take him to. I say ‘still’ because it does seem, at least for the vast majority of people I know, as if the action of putting pen to paper (or card) and writing ‘wish you were here’ is most definitely a thing of the past.
What with the advent of the ‘electronic postcards’ – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, and blogs such as this one (we are guilty – see ‘postcards‘ posts) – snail mail seems far too… well, slow. Not only from sticking the postcard in the mail box, then its journey from the senders location to the recipients location (and depending where you are in the world, you could even get back before your postcard arrives – or doesn’t even reach its distination!), there is also the physical aspect that one has to put in to find a befitting card, and then wracking your brains to find a witty way to compress your travel stories onto a tiny 3 1/2 x 5″area; if you want to avoid the clichéd ‘wish you were here’ or ‘wish you weren’t here’. And, don’t forget the postage stamp – these days, if you don’t want to buy a book of stamps (of which the remainder will probably sit on a shelf, gathering dust), as most stores no longer sell single stamps, you will also have to line up at the post office. To much time, thought, and effort… perhaps?
On the whole, we seem happy to have shrunk our worlds into the electronic medium of (often round-robin because it saves time) communication and, hey, I am more than guilty of taking this easy option of late. There was a time when, whilst on my travels, I wouldn’t think twice about sending a postcard – if only to my dad, to add to the collection, stuck on his fridge (with magnets, also from mine and my sisters travels). It seems such a shame that we don’t take the time to hunt out interesting, quirky, or clichéd postcards – or make your own from photographs you’ve taken – looking for just the right card for, say, your best mate, the one that only they would get the joke, the nuance, of the particular chosen card.
As Mr Trebay so succinctly put it:
‘Historians of Facebook and Twitter will be left to scrounge around the internet for the fugitive relics of the present communication age’.
Not for them, scene upon scene of the diverse wonders of far off places – the sun set over a Costa Rican beach; camels overshadowed by monolithic pyramids; African drummers around a bonfire; or, heaven forbid, those ‘naughty’ 70’s cartoon postcards, depicting two old men, sitting on striped deck chairs, eyes popping out of their heads as two young, comically over-endowed busty, blonds (who apparently have more fun – allegedly) walk past in itsy-bitsy bikini’s, with some lewd comment written underneath, a la: “eeeh, Stan, you don’t get many of those to the pound these days!”
Let’s not deprive ourselves of this ancient(ish) ritual – apparently, the first picture postcard was printed in 1840 in London, UK – nor the pleasure of our friends, or loved ones, picking their post up off the mat, shuffling through the usual generic brown enveloped bills, boring circulars… only to come across a flash of colour in amongst the mundane and, moreover, along with a personalised hand written note on the back.
How refreshingly old-fashioned, I say.
(first posted on May 25th 2010, NYC)